The Eisenhower Matrix is a productivity, prioritization, and time-management framework designed to help you prioritize a list of tasks or agenda items by first categorizing those items according to their urgency and importance. In PRIZ Innovation Platform we call this tool the Urgency Importance Matrix (UIM).
First, however, we should answer the question of what is urgent and what is important?
Urgency & Importance
In general, the meanings of these words are fairly clear. And yet, how do you define what is urgent and what is important. This appears to be not a very straightforward job.
To make it a bit easier, we also need to understand what is a task. Where are tasks coming from? The answer to that is simple, any task is a result of a flaw. Think about it, if there were no flaws there is nothing to do. In the perfect world, we all can sit back and do whatever we like without a need to define tasks at all.
An example of that could be “do the shopping”. As in this case, the flaw is not always clear but it exists…
Given the above explanation, we can now clarify how to identify what is urgent and what is important.
Urgent / Not Urgent
The easier way to think about urgency is if you think in the context of a flaw expectancy. If something is expected, it by definition cannot be urgent. An example can be car maintenance, it is expected and usually scheduled. On the other hand, if you have a sudden unexpected noise from the engine, it is for sure urgent.
Expected -> Not Urgent
Unexpected -> Urgent
Important / Not Important
Here too, you need to think in the context of a flaw. To be more precise the cost of the flaw. The question you need to ask is “What is the cost if the flaw is not addressed?”. If there is some small annoyance, that does not cause much harm (low cost), it is not important. But, if you encounter something that draws high costs, it is indeed important.
Note: cost does not necessarily mean money. The cost can be measured in time, nerves, lack of sleep, etc…
Low cost -> Not Important
High cost -> Important
Using Urgency Importance Matrix
In this article we will not dig too much into the why to use UIM, when is it useful and what are the use cases. For that, we have a number of blog articles that we welcome you to read. Here, we will concentrate on the step-by-step instructions and mechanism of how to use the tool.
First, we assume that you already know how to start using a new tool. For more information about that visit Creative Tools article. Urgency Importance Matrix is one of the available tools in the PRIZ Innovation Platform.
Once the tool is created, you will be redirected to the tool itself.
Create a list of tasks
Once you are in the tool, you can start defining the tasks (agenda items). To add a new task, you need to fill a single field form at the top of the tool’s page and click `Add Task` (or press Ctrl + Enter). Add as many tasks as you need. Don’t worry if you miss anything, you can always edit this list as you wish at any point.
Define Urgency & Importance
When ready, you and your team should define the urgency and importance of every task. Same here, there is no need to wait until you have all the tasks, there is nothing that stops you from defining urgency and importance at any moment (or changing it if needed). The result of this process is a grouping of all the items into 4 groups.
For a more convenient view of grouped tasks, you can switch to the result tab.
This view clearly shows which tasks are falling into what group. In the example above, Tasks 1,2 & 4 are in the group that needs to be done first.
In addition, the result view offers to rank Do First and Do Later tasks (if there are more than 2 tasks in the respective group).
For more information on why ranking is useful, we invite you to read our article about Round Robin Ranking (RRR). Also, read more details about how to use RRR.
Task Ranking Result
Once you complete the ranking of a group and return back to the UIM result page, you will be presented with the same list as above with attached ranks and sorted bu them.
Here, you are not only getting on organized groups of tasks but also what should be taken care of first within the group.
That is it. Use UIM to make better prioritization and be more productive.
ontact us with any questions or concerns.